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Co-Curricular Advisory Committee

 A newly formed community advisory committee is working to increase student engagement in the arts, athletics, and other co-curricular activities.

The committee – facilitated by Fine and Performing Arts Director Daphne Shululu and Director of Athletics and Wellness Samantha Little – is examining barriers to participation in co-curricular activities and will explore ways to eliminate them.

“We’ve never done anything like this before,” Little said about the collaboration between the athletics 
and arts departments. “It’s not rocket science, but hopefully we’re modeling for the rest of our community what it can look like and feel like. I believe we are exemplifying that inclusive and intentional collaboration between departments, with student voice at the center of the work, can be done.”

Potential barriers to student participation in sports, the arts, or clubs include lack of transportation, jobs and other commitments outside of school, or the perception of exclusivity in certain activities. The committee hopes to find out which barriers exist from students’ perspective, how to approach co-curricular activities from a cultural standpoint, and how different groups of students are encouraged or discouraged from participating in certain activities.

“We want to have a group 
that really helps to represent the experience the community is having within the lens of athletics and performing arts,” Shululu said.

Members of the committee include community representatives, parents, teachers, administrators, and Board of Education members. Soon, student representation will be added. A proposed student advisory council for arts and athletics at Ithaca High School would provide a student perspective, with three representatives attending the community advisory committee to exchange ideas and lend a student voice to the discussion.

The group looked at data in the district’s Equity Report Card as a starting point for conversations on student engagement. The committee also plans to collaborate with community organizations, identify ways to improve student
participation and promote the availability of co-curricular activities for all students.

Some possible ways to eliminate barriers include increasing community-wide options for participation, providing students with bus passes to ease transportation issues, and instituting sports study halls and tutoring programs to help student-athletes maintain academic eligibility.

Student empowerment is at the core of the committee’s work, and some student-focused changes have already occurred. Middle and high school students recently voted on the plays they want to perform in the fall. In the poll, students who indicated that they don’t plan on auditioning for the fall play were given the opportunity to explain why.

“This group 
has really helped me get some clarity on the power in the student voice,” Shululu said. “When we give them opportunities to tell us what they’re experiencing, we can help support them.”

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DISTRICT INFO

Ithaca City School District
Dr. Luvelle Brown, Superintendent
400 Lake Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 274-2101